James’s Musings

thoughts, photography, and geeky stuff
from an unrelentingly curious Silicon Valley entrepreneur

Reductio Ad PowerPoint

by James G. Beldock on May 22, 2008

Every now and again I run across a turn of phrase so damn clev­er that it re­quires im­me­di­ate dis­sem­i­na­tion to every­one I know. Such was the case with Daniel Gross‘s oth­er­wise very re­spect­ful re­view of econ­o­mist Jeffrey Sachs’s new book, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet in this past weekend’s New York Times Book Review. After singing its prais­es for most of his re­view, Gross quips

Sachs too fre­quent­ly laps­es in­to a sort of re­duc­tio ad PowerPoint. It seems every cat­a­stro­phe can be avert­ed if we take few­er than 10 sim­ple steps. Sachs presents “four com­pelling rea­sons why the poorest coun­tries need to speed the de­mo­graph­ic tran­si­tion,” “a list of sev­en re­quire­ments to en­able fam­i­ly plan­ning pro­grams to ac­cel­er­ate the de­cline in fer­til­i­ty” and “six steps to trans­form” American “se­cu­ri­ty pol­i­cy in­to a work­able frame­work for the 21st cen­tu­ry.”

Maybe it was the lit­tle thrill of see­ing a Latinate/geekspeak mash up, or just the fact that, struc­tural­ly, PowerPoint and ab­sur­dum are in par­al­lel, but it made my evening. Sometimes it’s the lit­tle things….

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